Dec. 17, 2014
Merry Christmas. Happy Hanukkah. Joyous Kwanzaa. Happy Holidays. Season’s Greetings. It’s that time of year when people around the world celebrate this special time according to their religion or culture. It’s also that time of year when some people refuse to accept diversity and demand their way is the only way to wish someone well during the season. Peace on Earth. Amongst all the discussion and arguing, I’d like to think that's the one sentiment we can all get behind.
A gunman in Sydney, a horrible massacre in Peshawar, conflicts in the Middle East, disease in Africa, threats from Sony hackers, crime in the United States—one look at the news headlines is enough to make anyone feel despair.
Peace on Earth. No matter the religion, culture, political leaning, nationality, gender, economic status or any other differing factor, I think we all can agree that is a wish we’d all like granted this year.
Yet, too often it is those very differences that color the thoughts and actions of some that lead to the opposite of peace. Instead of appreciating, celebrating and learning from differences, some choose to use them as excuses for discrimination, ill will and much worse.
For me, I know the more I learn about people who are different from me, the more I realize that deep down we are all so much alike. I traveled the world almost two years ago to places where I was very, very different than the people I met, yet kindness and caring was apparent everywhere. Even if we didn’t understand each other’s language, a smile and warm handshake conveyed a shared understanding and friendship. I'm guessing the people I met wish for peace on Earth as much as I do.
Michael Robinson is a senior in the College of Arts and Letters and is dedicated to learning as much about others as he can. He’s majoring in Chinese, global studies and anthropology and has become a student leader in MRULE, a multi-racial unity living experience and has studied abroad. He says it’s allowed him to gain professional experience while engaging with topics he is passionate about, like human trafficking, race, class, gender and social justice. Read his STUDENT VIEW: Success Through Global Engagement, to learn more about this impressive young man.
Django Paris is an associate professor of language and literacy in the Department of Teacher Education. He is committed to teaching what he cares about most deeply—educational and cultural justice for communities of color. He says it is important we continue to see racial and ethnic diversity, community membership and life experiences as crucial qualifications to do work with teachers, students and schools. Read his FACULTY VOICE: Language, Literacy and Urban Education to learn more about his important work.
Respecting diversity is a cornerstone at MSU. You see it in the students like Michael and others who have a real desire to be global citizens. You see it in faculty like Django who are committed to creating opportunities for all. Spartans might not have solved all of the world’s problems yet, but every day we’re making a real difference.
Peace on Earth.
Photo of holiday lights on Owen Hall by Derrick L. Turner